Ephs Come Out On Top 4-2 in Season Opener

Greg Johnson '16 by Bob Ewell
Greg Johnson '16 by Bob Ewell

WATERVILLE, ME -- Williams College freshman forward C.J. Shugart scored the game-winning goal and an insurance goal in the third period to lead the Ephs (1-0-0) to a 4-2 win over Colby (0-1-0 in the season-opener for both teams.

The game was riddled with penalties on both sides (14 in total), with the first period setting the tone for the game, six penalties called and three goals scored. Senior goaltender Sean Dougherty had a rock solid performance with twenty-two saves, and this win marked his thirty-second career victory as an Eph. Freshman C.J. Shugart had a breakout performance, with two goals on the night. The Ephs capitalized on two of seven power plays.

The first period was largely defined in special team opportunities, with six penalties being called overall. The first came at 2:17, where the Ephs drew an interference penalty to have the first man advantage of the season. They converted on their first power play attempt at 3:09, the goal being awarded to junior Greg Johnson, with the assist by sophomore Tyler Young, whose shot from the outside allowed Johnson to bury the puck behind Colby freshman goaltender Emerson Verrier.

The Ephs played down for a large percentage of the remainder of the period. After a penalty against Williams for too many men on the ice, Chris Kennedy of the Mules tied the game at 14:25 with an assist by Cam MacDonald.

Williams regained the momentum by drawing a slashing penalty against Colby. Shortly after, the Mules were back at full strength, but junior Matt Werner made the game 2-1 for the Ephs at 18:47, with assists from senior Alex DeBaere, who toe dragged his way around the defense to get the puck to senior David Jarrett, who fed Werner.

The first period ended with the Ephs on top 2-1 and Williams leading with nine shots, compared to the Mules' four shots on goal.

The second period was largely back and forth between the two teams. At 3:50, Jarrett took a five minute charging penalty, with Mules' Ray Zeek on the receiving end of this huge hit, causing him to consequently leave the ice. The Ephs killed off the five-minute penalty, avoiding a tie game due to Colby's extended man advantage.

More opportunities rolled through for both teams, with Ephs' dependable Dougherty between the pipes stealing a chance from Colby's Devin Albert off a wrist shot at 8:48. Williams had another power play opportunity after the Mules' Alex Walsh was caught flat footed as the Ephs had an odd man rush at 13:43. The Ephs were unsuccessful in converting on the power play, despite a last chance effort by sophomore Tyler Young, whose shot was blocked by Dan Dupont for the Mules.

Just as the period came to a close, Williams drew another penalty, heading into their fourth power play of the night due to a hooking call on E.J. Rauseo for Colby. While the period ended without a goal on either side, Williams went into the third with 1:26 left on the power play. The second period closed with an additional seven shots on goal for the Ephs, for a total of sixteen, and Colby had an additional six shots on goal in the second, for a game total of ten.

The third period commenced with Williams scoring at the tail end of their power play making the game 3-1. Freshman C. J. Shugart scored his first goal as an Eph at 1:02, as he found himself all alone in front of the net after a breakdown in coverage by Colby. Shugart was assisted by freshman David Italiano and senior Craig Kitto.

Colby had a huge opportunity in Tyler Lingel's backhander at 3:18, however Dougherty made a superb glove save to keep the Mules down by two. Following this play, the Ephs again went on the penalty kill to give the opposition yet another chance on the power play (but the Ephs blocked several shots, not allowing Dougherty to see much action, effectively killing the off the power play opportunity).

After several minutes of back and forth play, the Mules forced a turnover, allowing Shugart entry into the zone as he fired past goalie Verrier and scored an unassisted goal at 9:50 for his second goal of the night and of the period. Head coach Bill Kangas praised Shugart's debut as an Eph: "It is great to get your first college goal, but to get your first two in the same night, on opening night-- that is really something special."

A minute later, Williams went on the power play due to an interference penalty called on Jack Burton of Colby, but the Ephs had limited opportunities as Colby's penalty kill unit stifled their offense.

Colby was given a chance just three minutes later, with a little over four minutes left in the game, as two interference penalties were called on the Ephs within seconds of each other, on DeBaere and Johnson, respectively. Johnson's penalty would mark Williams' seventh penalty of the night. Colby's Jack Burton capitalized on this 5-3 advantage, scoring off of a left pad rebound given up by Dougherty due to Mario Benicky's original shot to the net, making the score 4-2.

Colby pulled Verrier with just over three minutes left. However, a penalty drawn against Albert for holding (as he tried to prevent  DeBaere from scoring on the open net) caused Verrier to be put back in the game. He was pulled again with around 2:30 to go, but unproductive back and forth play ensued for the remainder of the game.

Williams outshot Colby 25-24, winning with a final score of 4-2, exposing Colby's youthful roster, with nine freshmen and eight sophomores on their squad this season. "Obviously it's nice to win the opening game, first game on the road," said Kangas. "It means a lot for the start of our season. This was a pretty typical first game. I saw a lot of good things, as well as a lot of things to work on. But all in all, our guys showed a lot of resiliency, Sean [Dougherty] showed us what he is capable of yet again, and we had some key penalty kills. Special teams did well for us tonight."  

Williams (1-0-0) will face Bowdoin College Sunday at 3 p.m., and Colby (0-1-0) will face Middlebury College at 3 p.m. as well.